What’s on the menu at Estia, a Mediterranean restaurant from Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji
Contact: 90 Avenue Rd., 416-367-4141, estiatoronto.com, @estiatoronto
Owners: Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji
Chefs: Executive chef Ben Heaton (The Grove, La Société, Figo) and chef de cuisine Brent Maxwell (Canoe)
The menu tours around the Mediterranean with stops in Italy, Spain and Greece, with many of the plates designed for sharing. “About 95 per cent of the menu touches the smoke of the oven at some point,” says Heaton. (A wood-fired oven and charcoal grill are new additions to the space.) The kitchen’s focus is on traditional cooking techniques: the house-cured salami is hand cut; a mortar and pestle does a blender’s job; bread is baked in house; and they’re even making their own cheese and yogurt. Almost all of the products are brought in from small Ontario producers, except for the fish, which is flown in from Greece and New Zealand.
Sommelier Lauren Hall has curated an international wine list thicker than a novella. There are still a few bold reds in the cellar left over from NAO’s days, but Estia’s whites are the new top-sellers. They range from easy-sipping to complex, like a wild-fermented Santorini varietal for $110 a bottle. Cocktails are of the classic kind with a few on-theme tweaks: the mojito, for instance, swaps out rum for Greek brandy.
NAO’s man-cave vibe has been kicked to the curb—the only design elements saved were the multi-tiered glass chandelier and marble bar. The split-level, 177-seat space has been brightened with a lilac Persian rug here, teal pillows there; and decorative amphorae highlight the kitchen’s Greco-Roman influence (the name Estia is a reference to the Greek deity Hestia, goddess of the hearth). The front patio is so green, it could almost be mistaken for a nursery.